When we hear the word “safety,” many think of emergency services (police and fire), or maybe even safe (clean) air and water. How our city plans for potential catastrophes related to acts of nature, like earthquakes and flooding, and incentivizes property owners to do the same, is a safety issue we must make significant progress on. However, a “safe” community begins with leaders that are accessible, listen and relate to citizens. Communication before problems happen, and before issues are voted on, is vital. I plan to engage in effective and consistent communication about city issues and available resources, to plant seeds of goodwill and trust that may be drawn onto getting us through difficult times and hard decisions.
Our Redlands Police Department risks life and limb for our community daily with little fanfare. After being hit hard through the recession, numbers on the force have increased. I support the return of resource officers to our high school sites here in the Redlands Unified School District. We still have much to do to make the salaries for our officers competitive with other departments in the area. Furthermore, I will prioritize the desperate need to add a new safety hall, as the current one has both inadequate accommodations for a modern police department and is fundamentally unsafe. We must ensure we are helping our police department the way they help us every day.
Our economy creates a significant number of jobs that do not pay well. While we appreciate warehouse jobs, they are not the only jobs we want in Redlands. Redlands is a beautiful community that people love to live in and would like to work in. This backdrop, and the existence of quality, forward-thinking businesses (such as ESRI and institutions (such as the University of Redlands) give us the opportunity to become the business incubator of the Inland Empire. I will enlist local citizens and thought leaders in business and education to help us identify industries and businesses that complement existing businesses and that are consistent with who we are as a city. Then, our local policies must incentivize those businesses to come to Redlands.
Homelessness is not a simple issue and has to be dealt with on a regional basis. Redlands cannot solve the problem by looking inward only. First, we need to make sure that we see the return of significant tax dollars that go to Sacramento and Washington. We need to identify those that can and want to receive help. I will work with the Council to identify emergency resources that could be preserved with preventative help and focus those financial resources toward housing, drug prevention, and other goals that help us make progress on this problem.
The Packing House District is partly up, and we anticipate the Redlands Rail, which could drastically change transport in Redlands. The glaring issue that still remains downtown is that of the Redlands Mall. We do not know when development will actually occur; the rendering was nearly a year ago and nothing since. The City no longer owns the mall or the parking lot. I will continue to push for completion of the redevelopment of the mall area and ensure that the transactions we enter into related to our development include target timetables when possible.
Even while Redlands grows and modernizes, we cherish the Redlands heritage encompassed in our historic homes and buildings. We also cherish the natural and agricultural environments that make Redlands special. With this in mind, I plan to work with Redlands Conservancy and with our citizens to keep our city’s heritage alive and preserved. As a city, we must prioritize the health of city-owned orange groves, support local growers, continue to support the vision of the Emerald Necklace, and be sure that our plans for development in the City, residential and otherwise, co-exists with the conservation that makes Redlands unique.
We need to be sure our local government leaders are accountable. City leaders must explain when there are salary increases for city leaders concurrently with cuts in needed services and increased fees for citizens. We must ensure that our city leaders responsibly carry out the policies set by the City Council and that all city employees are valued and treated fairly. As a practicing attorney, I will prioritize understanding the reasons for our increased legal claims and expenses.
Redlands thrives because citizens have an unmatched spirit of service and volunteerism. Be it lifetime Redlanders or those that came to know Redlands later; those that volunteer often and those that never have, all share a common love of Redlands that can be used as the impetus to facilitate effective and continuous citizen participation and leadership. Through formal partnerships with our educational and business institutions, we must prioritize leadership development of citizens from all segments of our community. Specifically, I will work with other leaders to identify citizens that can participate and lead us into the future and facilitate their path to doing so.
It is imperative that our community understands that the City Council is listening to them and valuing citizen input. Even the perception of not doing so renders the City Council less effective. There is a “contact gap” between citizens and elected officials. City council should mimic our police model of community contact. Specifically, I pledge to use the district framework to meet with citizens my district quarterly and discuss problems, issues, and proposals before they are discussed at council meetings.
Quality of Life
For Redlands to continue to remain a safe, desirable place to live and work, it is imperative that we protect our quality of life. We should continue to expand trails, manage and reduce traffic in and through our community, and maintain our water resources. When development projects are proposed that potentially affect Redlands, whether in Redlands or close by, I pledge to evaluate those projects with our quality of life in mind. We must be thoughtful about how proposed projects will impact city resources and taxpayer obligations, and ensure that projects that affect Redlands actually improve Redlands.
Our most significant sources of revenue are property taxes and sales taxes. Redlands, like many other cities, faces rising pension obligations that will require more recurring revenue. We will only build so many new units of housing per year, and the convenience of the internet economy threatens to limit increases in revenue from shopping in local stores. To meet our growing obligations, our City needs to solidify sales tax revenue by incentivizing businesses that community members will patronize to exist and grow in Redlands. I will help the Council facilitate collaboration between business, government, and thought leaders to identify new sources of recurring revenue that will help to solidify our financial future.
The City of Redlands has been spraying its citrus groves to defend against the spread of HLB, or greening disease, which is being carried by a pest known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP). The damage the disease has done to the Florida orange crop has led to talks of a moratorium on planting new citrus trees in Redlands. This is the last thing we should do. Historically, Citrus continues to be an integral part of the Redlands fabric. Practically speaking, there are no known successful attacks on commercial groves in California at this point. There are also advances being made in related research of the disease. The City must not retreat from our citrus grove heritage. I will support policies that preserve our citrus heritage and the health of our citrus groves.